Port Haven

Port Haven ABO CoO NT187846 1 394 0m

Portevin 1441 Inchcolm Chrs. no. 51 [one of the lands confirmed to the abbot and convent of Sancti Columbe de Insula Emonia]
Portevyn 1441 NAS C.2 iii 160 [this is the original of RMS ii no. 268, which wrongly prints it as Portebyn; it is however correctly rendered in Inchcolm Chrs. p. 58, footnote 5]
Portevin 1440s Bower Scotichron. Bk. 15, ch. 38 (vol. 8, p. 138) [Aberdour men bring a boat from Portevin to rescue two shipwrecked men]
Porthaven 1758 RHP37878 [referring to ten (10.833) (Scots) acres of land on either side of the headland with its ruined pier (NT187843) at the north end of Barnhill Bay; note also Little Porthaven (1.760), which refers to the steep piece of land where Kinniker Wood ABO now stands]

G port + ? en Emon(ia)

‘Harbour of Emon(ia)’; port is G for ‘harbour’, while the redundant ‘haven’ is obviously an example of popular etymology. This is corroborated by the fifteenth-century form Portevin. Easson and Macdonald derive it ‘probably’ from G port éibhinn ‘pleasant harbour’ (Inchcolm Chrs. p. 252). However, it is more probably connected with the alternative name of Inchcolm, Emonia, possibly from older G Emon, the pronunciation evon showing the normal G change of intervocalic m to mh, pronounced something like /v/,[46] and having a slender vowel (i) in its final syllable because it is in the gen. case. For a full discussion of Emonia, see under Inchcolm ABO.

That Port Haven originally referred to the area depicted on RHP37878 is confirmed by the relevant entry in OS Name Book (77, 18), which describes Port Haven as: ‘A very small bay at the east[47] end of Barnhill Bay, where there is a landing place or small pier for boats. There are a few rugged rocks on the NW side of the bay and sand & shingle or small stones on the east’. Since the OS 6 inch 1st edn map shows the only ‘Pier’ along this stretch of coast at NT187844, between the headland forming the north edge of Barnhill Bay and Kinniker Cottage (not named, and now demolished), it is presumably this ‘Pier’ that the OS Name Book is referring to, with the ‘sand & shingle’ probably beng the small beach in front of where Kinniker Cottageonce stood (NT188845). This is backed up by the fact that the name Port Haven is written beside this ‘Pier’ in large, upper case letters, giving the misleading impression that it refers to the whole, broad bay between Bell Rockand the headland forming the north edge of Barnhill Bay.[48]

It may be significant that in 1949 some cist burials (one short cist, two long cists) were found immediately inland from this site at NT1877 8453 (NMRS NT18SE 6; Canmore ID 50894). For details, see PSAS 83 (1951), 240.[49]

The NGR of Port Haven should thus be around NT187844, and it should be assigned to DGY.


This place-name appeared in printed volume 1